Dakota Datebook, North
Dakota Public Radio
September 7, 2005
North Dakota musician Lawrence Welk said his first
real break came in 1937,
when his band was playing in Chaska, MN. Will Osbornes band was
nearby St. Paul, and one day Welk told his band he was taking
them into the
city for lunch and to listen to a real artist at work. One of
his band members
joked, If youre going to treat...[the] guy must be good!
What Welk really liked was Osborne's trombone section.
I used to think it
sounded something like cows mooing, he said, only very artistic
After the luncheon performance, they were walking
back to their car when
Lawrence was inspired to step into the luxurious St. Paul Hotel
and ask for a
booking. They all laughed, saying, Yeah! Sure! Have him book us
Hall while youre at it. To their surprise, the manager asked when
start. It was the start of something big.
By the end of 1938, the band was in Pittsburgh playing
broadcasts a day. In his book, Wunnerful, Wunnerful, Welk wrote,
One day our
announcer, Phil David, came striding into the dining room with
a whole stack of
letters in his hands and an excited gleam in his eyes.
Lawrence, I want you to take a look at some of these
letters, he said. See if
you notice the same thing I do. I took the mail and began to run
and almost immediately I saw what he meant. All the letters had
nice things to
say about our music, and in addition almost everyone added words
to the effect
that it sounded...sparkling, light, effervescent...bubbly, happy.
You know what these letters are saying, dont you?
Phil demanded. Theyre saying
that dancing to your music is like sipping champagne. Lawrence,
yourself some Champagne Music!
The moment he said it, I knew it was right, Welk
wrote. Suddenly everything
fell into place! From America's Biggest Little Band to the Hotsy
Totsy Boys and
The Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra, we had finally found the name
which seemed to
really suit us the Champagne Music of Lawrence Welk. It led naturally
Champagne Lady later Lois Best was actually the first girl to
wear that title
and all the boys became Champagne Music Makers. In many ways it
marked a real
turning point for us. Phil Davis had done us a great favor when
he found that
With our new title came a real flash of inspiration,
Welk wrote. I dug out the
song I had written years before to celebrate Shirleys birth, Youre
Sweet Home. Originally I had written it as a slow, sweet legato
ballad, a kind
of hymn to my daughter, but now I began to play the same tune
at a much faster
tempo, with a few added runs and frills. The result was a light,
which seemed to suit our musical style perfectly, and I began
to use it as our
theme song. When people asked me what the name of it was, You're
My Home Sweet
Home just didnt sound right to them, and so one day I decided
to have a contest
to give the song a new name...Within a matter of days we had found
the name we
wanted Bubbles in the Wine.
But... Welk continued, we had trouble trying to
get the sound of a champagne
cork exploding out of the bottle, which we needed to go along
with our new
theme. At first we tried opening a real bottle, but we never got
effect twice, and it was almost impossible to get it opened at
the exact moment
required in the song. I finally solved the whole thing by sticking
my finger in
my mouth and popping it out with a whoosh something I still do
something the boys tell me I have developed into a real art form.
I may not
play the accordion as well as Myron Floren, Welk wrote, but I
play a champagne
bottle much better than he does.
Source: Welk, Lawrence. Wunnerful, Wunnerful. New
Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1971.
Dakota Datebook is a project of North Dakota Public Radio, in
the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from
Dakota Humanities Council. Hosted by Merrill Piepkorn, written
by Merry Helm,
and produced by Bill Thomas.
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